Good evening everyone and welcome to another FFFD entry.
If my poor onomatopoeic phrases don't give too much then this is going to be a car related blog entry. Filled with cars....and carbon monoxide (depending on how it goes).
Expertly dropping the 'The' and other 'The' from the first film of the series, The Fast and The Furious, this film brings the series back to the high point after the dubious quality of 2 Fast 2 Furious and The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift. I honestly don't think I've ever had to write 'fast' and 'furious' as many times in my entire life before.
The film's main reason for success is to bring back gravel voiced man-child Vin Diesel and dead-eyed Paul Walker to the fold and to actually try to divert the attention away from the driving element to focus on things, things like character and plot. It partly succeeds. The main characters seem much more fleshed out than in previous installments and the focus on human interaction among the outlandish action actually pays off in driving (sorry) the film towards a satisfying climax.
Peripheral cast, Jordana Brewster and Michelle Rodriguez provide some much needed respite from the testosterone filled world that the film is set in. Add to this Gal Gadot as a reasonably well fleshed out strong individual and it almost (almost!) offsets the series staple of objectifying women in hilariously poor taste. Honestly, if the film was to be believed than if you drove anything remotely close to a Nissan Skyline GT-R or a classic Dodge and you'd get incredibly hot, slutty women flinging themselves at you, a fact that, sadly, rarely occurs.
So you have hot women and the fast cars and Justin Lin has a good eye for action, however, the tunnel chases are almost too unbelievable to occur in the pseudo-realistic world created. The far more exciting and tense chases are the road chases and the desert chases, allowing wider shots to frame the action better than the claustrophobic angles of the tunnel chases.
So the first 'true' sequel to The Fast and The Furious is a perfectly watchable film and a worthy contribution to the series.
Fast Five (2011)
Given the not terrible return from Fast and Furious, and the fact the film ended RIGHT in the middle of a scene, it made sense for a fifth film to be made. That film is the helpfully numerated Fast Five.
This film brings together pretty much the whole cast from the full series who isn't dead and each character is given enough to do that it pretty much expands everyone's roles from previous entries. The main characters are back and again, the focus of the film is even more removed from simple street racing to heists. This obviously helps bring the film a new audience who maybe wouldn't have appreciated the relatively in-depth car geek feel of some of the other films. New addition The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson) is wonderful, he brings a whole level of enthusiasm to the role and it is infectious. The fact he looks like a superhuman shaved kiwi fruit is always a plus.
The action here is superb however. I'm going to start with that. Justin Lin again helms the film and not only is the racing done exceptionally well but there are gunfights, fist fights and foot chases which are tightly edited and pulse pounding. Several of the scenes are imaginative with good stunt work and a nice mix of practical stunts and effects to give the scenes a level of realism whilst simultaneously being SO over the top. It's great fun.
The characters are further intertwined in this film and it is again a surprise to see so much human interaction from a series most famed for street racing. Paul Walker is actually alright in this, a fact that must simply be seen to be believed and Vin Diesel is great. The peripheral cast again are great, funny and useful. Han (from Tokyo Drift) in particular is a highlight.
The settings are also a treat, the slums of Rio are as colourful and pretty (in a slummy way) and the film has a real dirty vibe to it. This mirrors the grittier nature of the film, more people are shot, there's more blood, wounds. It feels nastier.
Of course there is still the objectification there, in particular one almost uncomfortable scene where Gal Gadot strips to a bikini to get a guys hand print by him feeling up her arse. But overall, there's less of this than in previous films.
All in all, a tighter, better scripted film with better action. This is actually (ACTUALLY) a good film. Not sure how you'd feel about it not having seen any others in the series but it's probably the best place to start.
And....I am looking forward to Fast and Furious 6. (can be seen here.)